Rugby Union

Brumbies hope Canberra's international flights open doors to Super Rugby success

The ACT Brumbies hope mooted international flights in and out of Canberra gives them the upper hand in turning around their New Zealand woes as well as cutting their travel time in half in a revamped Super Rugby draw.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham and chief executive Michael Jones backed plans for Singapore Airlines to start flying into the capital to open a gateway to New Zealand and Asia.

Jet-setters: The Brumbies hope international flights to Canberra will boost their Super Rugby campaign.
Jet-setters: The Brumbies hope international flights to Canberra will boost their Super Rugby campaign. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

No formal announcement has been made and the Brumbies are pushing ahead with their travel schedule with Sydney as their international departure point until any changes at Canberra Airport are set in stone.

But with mooted international flights set to reduce the Brumbies' transit time to New Zealand to just six or seven hours, Larkham knows it could be a winning bonus.

Tickets please: The Brumbies hope international flights to Canberra will boost their Super Rugby campaign.
Tickets please: The Brumbies hope international flights to Canberra will boost their Super Rugby campaign. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

"It would save a lot of time, we've got to go through Sydney almost every time we leave Canberra," Larkham said.

"It adds a fair bit because we're up so early and that takes it out of you. It's quite a considerable saving of time and energy for the boys [if there are international flights in Canberra]. We would benefit massively for it."

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The Brumbies have tinkered with their travelling schedule in recent years to try to find the right mix to winning games abroad.

They adopted the method of spending a night in Sydney before flying to New Zealand for matches, but their record across the ditch stands at just one win since the 2013 grand final.

They lost all three games in New Zealand last year, including a semi-final against the Wellington Hurricanes.

That is largely due to the strength of New Zealand rugby, and the Super Rugby overhaul will see the Brumbies play all five trans-Tasman rivals this year.

The Brumbies have previously investigated the option to use major sponsor Aquis' private jet to get to games in the finals series in South Africa.

It is understood Canberra Airport has told the Brumbies international flights are unlikely to be ready for the Super Rugby season, but the club is keen for a deal to be struck for the future.

It would also boost the Brumbies' hopes of playing pre-season or mid-season matches in Singapore or Hong Kong against the best teams from Europe.

The Brumbies had planned to play against the star-studded Toulon team in Singapore next month, but a scheduling clash ended the idea.

"It opens up a whole new market because Canberra is open and there's a business exchange concept," Jones said.

"We'd love to play pre-season and mid-season games there because it would be easy for us to get there and back, as well as getting businesses and people there."

The new Super Rugby draw is a shift from the previous set up that operated on a conference home-and-away fixture before playing four New Zealand sides and four South African teams.

Under the new conference system, the Brumbies will not play against an entire African conference, which boasts the new Argentina team, Southern Kings, Johannesburg Lions and Durban Sharks.

The competition is split into four conferences - Australian, New Zealand, Africa 1 and Africa 2.

The Brumbies have away games in Invercargill, Auckland, Cape Town and Bloemfontein with the potential of playing in Argentina in 2017.

"I've watched a video that simplified [the draw], apparently. But it's still pretty complex," said Brumbies outside back James Dargaville.

"To us, it doesn't really matter too much. You've just got to finish on top of your pool and win as many games as you can, particularly at home. It's so convoluted and everyone's all over the place that you have to step up every week."